Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marilyn . . .

All images courtesy We Heart It

I'm auditioning for a play in a few days, and I'll be reading for the part of Marilyn Monroe. It's put me in a pensive mood, gotten me to thinking about her. See, she wasn't just the sexpot dreamgirl everyone wanted her to be, even though nearly 50 years later that's usually all we remember her as.

She was beautiful, of course. She had a thousand-watt smile and never caught a bad angle from a camera. But, she was so much more. Watch one of her movies, even if you think you've seen them all. Just watch her. She was funny, with impeccable comedic timing, usually playing the straight-man with wide-eyed perfection. She made funny look effortless, and as anyone who's played comedy can tell you, that's that hardest part.

She also had a vulnerability, even when she was playing a temptress or "bad girl". That's why we loved her so much: even with all that beauty, we still felt like we could get close to her. She wanted to be loved so badly . . . as a child she bounced through foster homes, and as a woman she sought out failed marriage after failed marriage, but she never stopped hoping for acceptance.
Marilyn was beautiful and broken, perfect and flawed, funny and heartbreaking. She was so much more than a pinup girl, than a white skirt over a subway grate. She wanted to be seen and loved for herself, but never felt like she was; she hated her own films, and took every criticism to heart.

I wish I had known her, but more than that, I wish she had known herself. 50 years later, and we still talk about her, we still watch her films, we still dress up like her for Halloween. She was messy and complicated, but she was Marilyn, and though there have been countless imitators, there will never be an equal.